Poem: When I turn 100

August 5, 2022

When I turn 100

After the cake, 
sprinkled with patronising remarks
She’s doing so well!  She’s so sprightly!
I shall manoeuvre myself outside,
whether with cool cockatoo-head carved stick
or wheelchair.  I shall pour a whisky (large)
and light a cigarette, my first since 1986.
How sweet it will taste, my long-lost friend,
abandoned purely for health those many years.
Maybe they’ll be illegal by then,
but there’ll still be outlaw motorcycle gangs,
willing to supply the demand of a gran
(will they ride a whisper of e-bikes then?).
I’ll suck the smoke deep into my lungs,
and anyone who moans about cancer
or emphysema will get a chuckle.
Age will free me from responsibility.
I’ll clutch my carton like a prize.

PS Cottier

It’s been too long since I posted here, which is not (only) due to laziness, but because I have been incredibly busy. I am coming up to my first year anniversary as Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times, have been doing multiple book reviews, and just gave a reading. I was very pleased to have a poem published in an American journal called Please See Me, in a special issue on Women’s Health.

I am reaching the age where they start to monitor my body for all sorts of complaints and illnesses, and this inspired the poem. I also read the poem at the page linked to above.

I woke from uneasy sleep, as feathers tickled
my suddenly sneezy nose. That has not stopped,
and I need to bless myself twelve times a day.
I carry tissues tucked between the feathers.
If you are hit by sodden snow, it is probably
a cloud-like tissue, slipping from inexpert wings.
I would call the wings adequate, though,
as I do not miss the morning commute.
Please do not mistake me for an angel.
I often swear, up here amongst the fluff,
and my fingers pluck no cunning harp.
Mittens cradle my blue-cold hands,
and a beanie holds my head like an egg.
Why this happened to me, I can't really say.
Who has not dreamt of flight? Yet so few
wake to feather doonas sprouting
from shoulders like quotation marks.
'Anything becomes usual, given you have 
enough time to get used to it,' as I said to the press.
I ride updrafts, and predict the patterns of sneeze.
It is quietly wonderful, to share a life with pigeons,
and to perch, a woolly gargoyle, for a quick cup of tea.

PS Cottier

A fun poem, more than the illustration by Hans Tegner, which is excellent but a bit grim. And everyone should recognise the origin of that first phrase!

Tuesday poem: Where they go

December 8, 2021

Where they go

Full calls have no place among the clipped hedges,
the solid garages, or mere carports of suburbia.
There is indeed a farm where plucky roosters go,
invisible to the eyes of those who dispatched them
with handy axe, or squeamish vet.  In the sky 
the boy-chooks crow, show their bright red crowns, 
scratch the earth.  Executed for the lack of eggs,
they hatch sweet cockadoodle-doos to the moon.
The stars catch gleams of manic eye, 
the triumphant shake of crimson wattle.

PS Cottier

That’s a simple poem that was recently short-listed for a competition. (There are monthly competitions run by the publication Positive Words, for tiny stories and short poems.) I find it amazing how many people keep chooks but don’t think too much about the lack of male birds, all dispatched because they don’t meet our supposed needs. I’ll shut up now before I go the full vegan, and get back to perusing the 300 or so poems submitted for The Canberra Times.

Tuesday poem: Limits

October 26, 2021

Limits


‘Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live.’ 
Pope Francis


Four months ago the trees looked like trees
drawn in charcoal by a depressed artist —
simple strokes of black connecting earth
to noon-time grey, throat-choking, skies.
Now, watch the festoons of green
circling the trunks, as if strewn
by the world’s worst exterior decorator.
Such vivid newness, almost artificial
in its neon promise.  And yet,

such trees have known blazes many years,
lightning-spat, or most carefully set,
by those who shaped the land, 
farmed with fire, forty thousand years or more.
We comfort ourselves, forget that this mega-blaze,
man-made, was the very opposite of skill.
We have changed the seasons, charged
the air, dried the possibilities of rain
into a parched riverbed of loss.

Yes, the trees still push out leaves.
Frail canopy above dead mounds of wombat,
of lyre-bird-less, song-lost, ground.
The reassurance of regeneration
this time asks us how many more
times green can possibly appear.
If next year, and the next, another
blaze exceeds all history,
will even gumtrees stay gloomed —

dead sticks we poked into a lessened land?

PS Cottier


Everyone is pleased to see the bush regenerating after a fire, but how many times can it do so after the mega fires that climate change brings?